Sunday, April 24, 2016

Coffee Yield Topper

So loyal readers should know that AgroLiquid does business with Kauai Coffee on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai.  In fact they use our favorite fertilizer on around 15% of their 3200 acres. My goal is 100% and hopefully that will happen someday. There are other factors at play, so we'll see.  Anyway, you will recall that I was there in January and the blog documented the delivery of a 4200 gallon isotainer fresh off the boat and being delivered to their storage tank facility.  After leaving I took a few pictures of some fields that looked really nice.  They were finishing up the season's harvest at that time.  Well I just found out that the above field had the highest coffee bean yield of the whole operation.  And wouldn't you know that it was one fertilized with AgroLiquid nutrition.  I was so happy to learn that and will make sure that they don't forget it.  So look for Kauai Coffee at your local grocery store, and if they don't carry it, give them an ultimatum.  Then hope that the bag you buy has beans from this or one of the other fields fertilized with the best plant nutrition available today.  (That's AgroLiquid genius).  And tell them Mahalo.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth (What?)

So surely you saw that Queen Elizabeth celebrated her 90th birthday the other day.  Many festivities involved. Like here she is with husband Prince Phillip, who is 95.  She is probably surprised at the rapid passage of time.  I know I am.
So that got me to thinking, and I sought out my old slides from the vault.  Would you believe that 40 years ago, in June of 1976, I happened to find myself at Windsor Castle, the official residence of the Queen?  It's about 20 miles West of London.  You see, I spent the whole summer of 1976 in Europe with a college buddy and his brother.  Just hanging out and seeing the sights.  It was a great experience that I will never forget, even after all this time.  And it was pretty cheap, and safe, to do back then. But anyway, here is one of the guards outside the gate.  We were there on a Sunday morning and received a tip to go to the end of the driveway for a big surprise.
 See that car coming towards us?  That is the Queen of England, driving herself to church.  Hard to believe that such a thing would happen now.  Or even then!  And there were only a few people at the exit gate.  (I notice now that they could have used some white clover control on the Royal Lawn.)
There she goes, zooming by us at the wheel of her own car.  (You can tell this is in England since she is driving on the wrong side of the car.)  And right after that, her husband Prince Phillip drove by, driving himself in his car.  I remember he smiled and waved.  (It was so sudden, that I didn't get a picture of him, darn it.)  But it was kind of cool to see these lofty icons drive by, and one even wave at us.  I guess at home out in the country, they could drive themselves around, and took advantage of it.  Surely a different world.
So looking at the top picture of the way they are now and remembering how they were then...makes me think.  Have I changed any my own self?  No, that's what happens to others.  I have pictures.  I'll bet if I was at one of the London parades now, the Queen would nod my way thinking "I remember you."  Well Happy Birthday anyway.

(By the way, I know this has nothing to do with fertilizer and agriculture.  But it's my blog and sometimes stuff happens that I want to share.  Plus it's late Friday night.  And this is only for my loyal blogspot followers, not the website.)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Seed Meets Soil 2016

So yesterday, on April 20, the NCRS was able to begin planting.  It was later than we would have liked, but rain and cold had kept the soil wet.  But a warm up enabled planting to begin on one experiment.  Tim is planting the different treatments in the experiment.  This is a crop that is always planted first at the NCRS.  Any guesses? 
 Here is a look in the furrow.  See those orange seeds?  (And don't you think orange is a perfect color for a seed?  Well it is a treated seed, but still good choice.)  It's sugarbeets.  Hard to believe that such a big plant grows from such a small seed.  Sugarbeetss are the first planted and nearly the last harvested.
Other activities yesterday signaled the start of spring farming.  Like Jeff here running the vertical tillage over these corn stalks to prepare for soybean planting.
And the greenhouse has plenty of things growing.  There are some experiments that Jacob is running on some of the larger plants.  Plus some plants for the upcoming Green Thumb Expo.  (More on that later.)  And in the flats on the right are a variety of vegetable transplants that will be set in the field in several weeks.
So of course it rained today.  But at least we got some seeds in the ground yesterday.  So now that we've taken that first step, the rest will be easy.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

One More Blog Post From Southern California

So it turns out I still had a couple pictures left on my last roll of film.  And I don't like to waste.  So here is really the last post from my California trip in March.  Having finished business out in the Imperial Valley, we drove back to San Diego.  It is pretty much desert which is quite a contrast from the lush Imperial Valley.  All of that flat ground and sunshine makes for a good spot for this massive solar farm.  Although it was a rare cloudy day.  Question: why are things like this called a "farm"?  I didn't see one tractor or cow. 
And here is one of the many wind farms we saw.  As before, no combines or grain bins.  Probably not worth the effort for an attempted fertilizer sale here. 
One interesting thing is the "mountains" we saw.  Unlike regular mountains, these are literally just piles of rocks rising out of the flat ground.  Don't know if this was a government project of if it was like this all by itself.
 Eerie.
Later on was a Wine Grape Symposium put on by one of AgroLiquid's new Retail Partner, Grangetto's of Escondido, CA.  About 30 miles North of San Diego.  It was attended by a large group of primarily independent grape growers.  There were a variety of speakers on topics such as varieties, diseases, insects, cover crops, and of course, fertility.  A good learning experience especially for someone like me who only recently ventured out of a corn field.
And no conference is worth attending if there is no AgroLiquid booth.  So there was one here.  We see JW in his formal black cowboy hat, and Carlos on the far left who needs no hat (or does he?) They are talking to grape growers about the many virtues of AgroLiquid products like Pro-Germinator, a name to trust for consistent performance.
So my California experience was certainly worth four blog posts.  It's a big state and there is activity going on nearly all year long.  But now as spring planting approaches back here in Michigan, home of the NCRS, I will turn my focus on getting things underway for yet another year of research in the great LAND OF LIQUID!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

More Interesting Crop Sightings in the Imperial Valley

So I know I have spent quite a bit of blog time on my trip to California last month.  But I still have some pictures left, so show 'em if  you got 'em.  Like this orange here. What's up with that?  Disease? Bug bites? Dried up from drought?  Wrong, wrong and wrong.  It's supposed to look like that.  This is a Sumo Citrus.  It was developed in Japan as a cross between a Mandarin and Navel orange.  Took 30 years to develop, and they were introduced to the market here just a few years ago.  Now I had never heard of a Sumo Citrus, much less picked one off a tree and eaten it.  I read that it is called Sumo due to the "top knot" appearance at the top.  Like a Sumo Wrestler.  Clever.
So big deal, a bumpy orange, so what?  Well the loose skin makes it very easy to peel, which is one of the downsides of regular oranges.  But there's more.  They are extremely sweet.  It is said that a bad Sumo is better than a good orange.  Well that may be extreme, but they're right.  So don't be repulsed by appearance in the store.  Buy some and eat them.  You probably will want to keep them for all for yourself as they are expensive.  So that was an interesting crop sighting.
Driving around you can see all sorts of food growing.  We weren't sure what this was, but I guess some sort of spinach maybe?  How embarrassing for three agronomists not to know this.  But I'll bet it's good.  Someone reading will probably set me straight.  
Here is some young green and purple lettuce.
And a field of onions.  All this within a couple miles of each other. 
And a field of sugarbeets too.  Actually there are around 25,000 acres of sugarbeets in the valley.  You may recall the visit I made to sugarbeet plots back in a post on February 28, 2014.  I described how they are grown and harvested then.  We had the highest yields in those plots, and hope to do some more when they do fertilizer plots again.  Plus now we have a Retail Partner in the area.
But I had not seen a set-up like this, with mini irrigation pools at the end of the field.  They must be for irrigation, but how do they work?  Fortunately there were some workers in that onion field that was next to this beet field.  They were happy to explicare.
Here is a pool that has been drained as the water went into the field.  See all of those wooden stakes?
Well, when the pool is full and it is time to move the water into the field, someone moves the stake to the side which allows the water to go into the furrows between the row.  Now how cool is that?   Just move the stakes in the appropriate pool and let the water flow.  Close when through and fill it up again for next time.  So that was an interesting crop sighting.
And what's this across the road from the sugarbeets?  It's a field of recently harvested sugarcane of all things.  How could there be sugarcane here in Southern California?  Even sugarbeets seem kind of out of place, although they have been here over a hundred years.  But sugarcane is normally grown in Louisiana and Florida (and until this year, in Hawaii).  You know places with lots of rain.  Well there is lots of irrigation water. But it turns out that this is an experiment where the sugarcane is used for ethanol production, not sugar.      
But I never thought I would see sugarbeets and sugarcane growing right next to each other.  So maybe this will be yet another Imperial Valley crop.  Now that was a real interesting crop sighting.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

AgroLiquid to the Rescue

So again, I'm sorry for the delay, but I've been busy.  We continue from far Southern California during a visit there last month.
From the above picture of an I-Phone altitude app, it appears that we fell into a deep hole.  Well we are deep below sea level, but not in a hole.  No, I am back at the Salton Sea in far Southern California.  I have reported on the history of the area and how the Salton Sea came to be on June 25, 2015, and more on February 28, 2014.  So check those out and then come back.  I'll wait.

After leaving Coachella, JW, Carlos and I headed South and went around the Salton Sea.  It's 15 miles wide and 35 miles long and is nothing but a salty catch basin.  Unusable for anything, although we did see a couple campers along the shore.  Well at least it's a place to get away from it all.  Here is some bedded ground where something will be planted.  Not sure what as its getting late and temperatures will soon be too hot for anything.  Maybe it's getting a jump start for next fall.  Don't have to worry about rain washing them away.
 Pretty sunset and reflection off the sea.  Well I guess the sea is good for nice pictures.
 An eerie landscape of nothing but sand and the sea water and twilight sky in the background.
 Our objective was to get down into the Imperial Valley, a winter garden for the whole country.  I reported earlier that we are working with some olives there.  Olives are a popular and growing crop in the Imperial Valley.  In fact the grower operation that we were working with is now a retail partner.  It is Desert Milling of Brawley, CA.  Now these are some good olives that they own.  Remember this for reference.
These are some not so good olives that have just come under their management.  It seems that some people, all they see are dollar signs and are not really any good at establishing a crop.  This farming is not so easy, is it?  We saw this newly established field last year.  They watered with flood irrigation and all it did was make erosion ruts and the trees were not cared for properly.  So they turned it over to Desert Milling to manage and recover it. So what better place for the first use of an AgroLiquid program on olives? First they established drip irrigation which is much better than flood.  Next they pruned the trees to promote proper growth.  After that, the Agro will flow.
Another issue is that the water is so salty.  Olives have some level of salt tolerance.  But this is a challenge for sure.  Hopefully the low-salt AgroLiqud will cancel it out.
 Of course all agriculturalists have to stand around and discuss options.  Just like previously in the peppers.  Here we see Rocky, who is Desert Milling's olive manager, JW, Carlos and Dr. Art Dawson, a crop consultant who is running some trials.  And yes, Rocky is tall and did play college basketball.
So hopefully in a future blog post there will be an amazing transformation here due to good management and AgroLiquid to the rescue.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Coachella Valley. Where's That?

So a few weeks ago I went out to the Coachella Valley.  Where's that, you ask? Well I was there last June.  In fact I showed this overlook as we came over the mountains to the valley and the cities of Coachella and Indio...California.  It is Northeast of San Diego.  And I was accompanied by Field Agronomist JW and Sales Account Manager Carlos.  Ready for work, so off we go down the mountain into the valley.
The Coachella Valley is one of those places that seems to grow everything good.  Bell Peppers (below), carrots, citrus, grapes (featured last June), okra, onions and lots more fruits and vegetables.  Well we are new to the valley, and now have a top notch Retail Partner, Foster Gardner.  But being new it is necessary to get some trial work.  Like on this Bell Pepper field where Kalibrate will have a test vs KTS (potassium thio sulfate).  Hardly fair, but necessary.  It will run through the drip tape under the plastic.

Of course there is the customary discussion by the pick ups of all committed parties.  The grower, retail partners, SAM and Agronomist.  And the research guy too.  Convinced that it is a good option for using AgroLiquid, the layout is mapped and applications determined.  Hey test layout is what I'm good at, so of course it will work.
 But during this conversation, an old Hagie sprayer came to the edge of the field to fill up with water for some spray operation.  Recalling all the hours I spent in a similar machine at the NCRS, back when I used to do real research work, I became nostalgic.  I was pretty close to going over and asking if I could take it for a spin.  
 Well after that we were off to another place when we happened by Shields Date Garden in Indio.  
 So of course we had to stop once I saw this sign on the side of the building.  I was certainly anxious to see what was going on in this movie about someone's date.
Oh.  It was about the dates that grow on trees.  Well that was still a pretty exciting movie.  Did you know that over 90% of the nation's dates are grown in the Coachella Valley?  Well now you do.  But how many of you have actually eaten a date?  They are quite tasty.  Very sweet.  There are lots of different kinds.  But the most famous is the Royal Medjool.  And look.  They have a big table where you can sample all you want.   
You didn't have to drag JW to the sampling.  You did have to drag him away though.  But he did do the right thing and bought quite a few to take home.  Well if they made it home, that is.
This was a cool place with a Date Garden behind the store.  All of these are date trees.  A lot of the cultivated date trees are shorter with the dates closer to the ground and easier to harvest.  (See last June post for date orchards.)  There were also Orange trees there, and they were in bloom.  It smelled so good.  I don't know if you have ever smelled orange blossoms, but it is definitely a top five scent.  It was a very beautiful walk along the garden trail.
One feature of the Date Garden was depictions of the life of Jesus with various statues of different events.  Here is one where he is gathering Apostles.  Well look under the palm trees across the pond and you will see what is being recognized tomorrow, Good Friday.  So it was pretty cool seeing this in a realistic desert setting among the palms.  Last Sunday was Palm Sunday and all.
So the area is a great place to develop AgroLiquid sales, and a nice place to visit besides.  Enjoy your Easter celebration.  More CA adventures to come.